Students from across Capital City College Group (CCCG) have shared their highlights and memories of a trip to South Korea they say will stay with them for a lifetime.
The 20-day trip was the first of two organised by the Group this year under the Turing Scheme, the UK’s global work and study programme, following a successful visit last July.
Half the students visited Keimyung College University (KMCU) in Daegu and 16 headed to Kyungbuk College (KBC) in Yeongju for the first two weeks, before joining together in the capital Seoul.
Students were paired up with their Korean peers and given tours of the cities and colleges where they tried out taekwondo, flew kites and drones, played games, painted ceramics and took part in a make-up and skincare sessions. They also joined in a Korean tea ceremony where they were invited to wear traditional clothing called hanbok.
During the trip, students had the chance to see some of the country’s famous landmarks including Gyeongbokgung Palace, the largest of five royal palaces dating back to the 14th century, and Buseoska Temple near Mount Bonghwang in the Sobaek Mountains.
The trip also educated them on careers in Industry 4.0 – the innovation and development of smart technology in industry, and the green sector, both areas of economic growth in South Korea. This included tours of the Hyundai Motors Ulsan Plant and Hanul Nuclear Power Plant, and a visit to the Smart City Exhibition in Seoul.
The visit included an overnight stay at the National Centre or Forest Therapy near the Sobaeksan Mountain, and a chance for students to make meju and doenjang at the Korean Folk Village, which is used in condiments such as soy sauce and red chilli pepper paste.
At KBC, students planted a tree with a plaque celebrating the friendship between the college and CCCG to mark Sikmogil Abor Day, an annual day to promote trees, forests and gardening.
Both groups joined together in Seoul where they took a bus tour of the city sights and visited the artificial intelligence and engineering facilities at Korea Polytechnics.
Students also visited HiKR Ground, one of Korea’s newest tourist attractions where visitors can immerse themselves in various experiences related to Korean popular culture known as Hallyu.
Business student Jonny Ross, 18, said: “When I heard about the trip, I thought it was an amazing opportunity and I would grasp it with both hands. There’s nothing like actually being in a country and experiencing it.
“Taekwondo was fun. All the Korean students were black belts and helped me learn the basics and I picked up some moves quite quickly. The same day we played some Korean games and everyone got quite competitive.
“I’d love to go back one day and tour the rest of the country. I feel very privileged to have been given this opportunity. It’s given me memories of a lifetime.”
A Level student Fatima Ahmed, 18, said: “I’ve always wanted to travel, and knew I would regret it if I didn’t go. It was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. They all went above and beyond to make sure we all had a good time.
“In Deagu, we took part in a traditional tea ceremony, which was a lovely experience. It felt so relaxing and peaceful. The way you bow, put in your tea and leave your cup in a certain way – everything had a place and meaning.
“I wish I could go back again and do more. It was an experience I will always remember, and I look back on fondly. It really makes you realise there so much more in the world to learn, discover and explore.”
All students and apprentices at City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, and apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training, were offered the chance to apply for places on the trip.
Seungeun Chang, Head of International Development and Operations at CCCG, said: “This was our second trip to South Korea under the Turing Scheme and was a wonderful opportunity for our students to broaden their horizons and learn about a fascinating culture that is very different from their own.
“They enjoyed meeting their peers at the Korean colleges, visited many historic landmarks such as the Gyeongbokgung Palace, explored the bright lights and bustling streets of Daegu and Seoul and the serene natural landscapes of the Sobaek Mountains, and took part in some of the country’s customs and traditions.
“This was an incredible trip and a chance for our students to learn and understand more about the world around them. It was a wonderful experience that I am sure will stay with them forever.”